By Will Hawkins

Urinary Tract Infections: Foods that fight bacteria

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) affect millions of people every year. They occur when bacteria infects our urinary tract, causing unpleasant and sometimes painful side effects.

Although UTIs are traditionally treated with antibiotics, alongside this course of treatment there are also many at-home nutritional strategies available to help treat infections - and prevent them from reoccurring!

If you're suffering from, or you've recently had, a UTI, then try out these top tips for keeping the infection at bay.

  1. Increase your vitamin C intake

Evidence from John Hopkins Medicine has shown that your vitamin C intake can be linked to a reduced risk of UTIs.

Vitamin C is thought to work by increasing the acidity of the urine, thereby killing off the bacteria that causes infection. In fact, a study by Universidad de Colima in Mexico found that pregnant women who ingested 100mg of vitamin C a day (which is about 2 oranges!) cut their risk of contracting a UTI by more than half.

Stock up on fruit and vegetables if you're looking to up your vitamin C intake – oranges, grapefruits, kiwis and red peppers are all great sources.

  1. Incorporate more probiotic foods into your diet

Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that are consumed through food or supplements, and they've been found to promote a healthy balance of bacteria in our guts.

The most common probiotic strain, Lactobacillus, was found to increase UTI prevention in women, whilst another study found that a person's increased intake of probiotics, alongside their prescribed antibiotics, reduced the risk of recurrent UTIs.

In addition to this, whilst antibiotics do a great job of fighting off infections in the body, they can disturb and upset our gut bacteria. One study found that increasing our probiotic intake after a course of antibiotics helped restore healthy levels of gut bacteria, allowing our bodies to continue fighting off infection and other illnesses effectively.

You can take probiotics as a supplement, or incorporate certain foods into your diet that are rich in probiotics. Fermented foods, such as kefir, kimchi, and probiotic yogurt are all good sources, and so are dark, leafy vegetables (like spinach and kale) and mushrooms.

  1. Take supplements (alongside a well-balanced diet)

There are other supplements you can take to help you battle regular UTIs:

  • Garlic extract has been found to have antimicrobial properties. One study has noted that this may contribute to preventing UTIs by blocking bacteria growth.
  • Cranberry extract can prevent bacteria from settling in the urinary tract, and the formation of a UTI.
  • D-Mannose is a type of sugar that is naturally produced in cranberries, and it has been linked to both treating and preventing UTIs.